Store managers charged with selling ineffective COVID-19 air sanitizer

Posted July 21, 2021

Between May 2020 and July 2020, two JCD Distribution Inc. managers in Queens were charged with conspiring to sell and distribute one or more unregistered pesticides that were misbranded or adulterated.
General Manager Po Shan Wong and Sales Manager Zhen Wu were marketing Virus Shut Out Cards as air sanitizers that would kill the COVID-19 virus. The cards were not shown to be effective in preventing or treating the virus. Zhen Wu alleged she ordered the product to have it on hand, while Wong was responsible for the decision to market and sell it.
Part of the duo’s marketing strategy was claiming that the Virus Shut Out Cards emitted chlorine dioxide and acted as “portable space disinfection and sterilization cards with a sterilization rate of 99 percent.” Chlorine dioxide is a gas, pesticide and bleaching agent as outlined by the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.
The store’s Facebook page showed pictures of a credit card-sized item being worn by adults and children, attached to their clothing or items they were carrying. Along with the pictures was an assertion that the Virus Shut Out Cards “replace masks.” The cards were sold in minimum quantities of 50. The price per card was $9.50.
When the cards were tested by the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Enforcement Investigations Center, the cards contained sodium chlorite in quantities to convert to chlorine dioxide on exposure to carbon dioxide and water vapor in the air. Breathing air saturated with high concentrations of chlorine dioxide can cause chronic bronchitis, nose, throat, lung irritation, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.
The criminal charges against the pair alleged the claims they made about protecting the public against COVID-19 were false, and the cards endangered the public.
The case against Zhen Wu, the Sales Manager of JCD Distributors, was eventually dismissed without prejudice, meaning that the government can opt to retry her in the future by bringing another suit based on the same grounds.
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